Guidance from EPA
Q: My establishment is remotely located and I have only a few workers and/or handlers. It’s very difficult to get qualified trainers to spend the time travelling to my location. Can WPS training be done by webinar, and if so, how must it be conducted to ensure that it complies with the new training requirements contained in the 2015 revisions?
A: Yes, pesticide safety training can be presented as a webinar as long as all of the WPS pesticide safety training requirements in 40 CFR 170.401 (for workers) or 170.501 (for handlers) are met.
These sections of WPS clearly require that employers ensure that workers and handlers are trained in accordance with the requirements in these sections. In many WPS pesticide safety training arrangements, trainers are the ones who actually implement the requirements about how training is provided and generally create the training record, but employers are still responsible for ensuring all training requirements are followed. When pesticide safety training is presented by a webinar, employers will have additional responsibilities to ensure compliance with the requirements about how training is provided and how training records are created.
In addition to requirements about when and how often workers and handlers need to be trained, the training content that must be covered, and the qualifications of trainers, 40 CFR 170.401 and 170.501 establish the following pesticide safety training requirements:
A qualified trainer must be present during the training session to respond to any questions.
The qualified trainer must be on the webinar during the entire training session and be able to respond to questions or concerns from the trainees. The qualified trainer is likely to implement the next two requirements in the list by selecting the EPA-approved training material and presenting it orally from written materials or audio-visually.
While the trainer has a role in providing the training in a manner the worker or handler can understand, the employer has primary responsibility for ensuring that all of his workers/handlers can understand the training. This employer responsibility includes both ensuring that the training language is appropriate for each worker and handler, and ensuring that the individual workers and handlers have the capability to follow and utilize webinar-based pesticide safety training. Because the trainer is not physically in the same place as the workers or handlers, the employer must ensure that the technology is working and that the workers or handlers can understand the information.
Similarly, the employer must ensure that the training location is reasonably free from distractions and is conducive to training. The specific electronic device and audio and visual display that are “conducive” to training will depend on the specific situation. The size of the screen and audio volume that are sufficient for a one-on-one training probably would not be appropriate for a room full of workers or handlers. EPA strongly recommends that the employer (or a delegate) is physically present for the entire time to ensure the requirements are met. Finally, the employer (or delegate) will probably have to create the training record and obtain the signature of each worker and handler, and the employer must retain those records for 2 years.